How does the census work? Data protection and information security

The security of your data is our main priority!

For this reason:

  • All interviewers and other persons employed by the statistical offices and survey offices are legally obliged to maintain secrecy and statistical confidentiality
  • Our online data transmissions are always encrypted;
  • We will not pass on any information collected on individuals to third parties, not even to other public authorities outside the statistical offices;
  • Your personal data will be separated from other information and deleted at the earliest possible opportunity, so that no conclusions can be drawn about your person.
  • You can find more information on data protection and information security by clicking on each item in the list.

    1. Your personal data collected during the census will be protected and will not be disclosed to third parties.

    The protection of your data will be ensured during the 2022 census through various binding principles such as statistical secrecy, the “prohibition on feedback”, the legal obligation to maintain confidentiality and the principle of purpose limitation. This means the following for your data:

    The principle of statistical secrecy or statistical confidentiality prevents any data provided for federal statistics from being disclosed or published if the disclosure or publication of such information would allow conclusions to be drawn about the persons concerned. This is stipulated in Section 16 (1) of the Federal Statistics Act (BStatG). All persons involved in the organisation and implementation of the 2022 census will be particularly obliged to maintain statistical secrecy and ensure data protection. Anyone who breaches this obligation will be prosecuted.

    The prohibition on feedback also applies. In its “Census Judgement” of 1983, the Federal Constitutional Court established that data was to be protected from further disclosure as part of a “prohibition on feedback”. According to this judgement, the statistical offices are forbidden from “feeding back” records containing the personal data of data subjects to the non-statistical bodies and authorities from which the original data was obtained (the “prohibition on feedback” in a narrower sense) and from passing on such records to any other administrative bodies and authorities such as tax offices, the police, employment agencies and social services (the “prohibition on feedback” in a broader sense). In other words, data is only allowed to flow in one direction (i.e. to the statistical offices); this is also referred to as the “one-way-street principle”.

    It would also be legally inadmissible to pass any form of legislation that might allow individual data collected for the census to subsequently be used for non-statistical purposes. Any such legislation would contradict the principle of purpose limitation, as stipulated in Art. 5 (1) of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), according to which data may only be processed for the specific purpose for which it was collected.

    The legal obligation to maintain confidentiality applies to any information that has been entrusted to a person or body sworn to confidentiality (e.g. an interviewer). For example, this concerns all personal data, the entire content of interviews and all private affairs and business secrets. This legal obligation to maintain confidentiality generally continues to apply after death.

    2. We will only need your name for organisational purposes – it will then be deleted.

    The following also applies: The laws on the 2022 census stipulate that personal data (e.g. names and addresses) must be separated from other information at the earliest possible opportunity. Your personal data will only be collected for the purpose of organising the census (e.g. to send out letters) and preparing the data (e.g. to exclude any duplicates from the census results). Your personal data will then be deleted at the earliest possible opportunity.

    3. We will ensure the protection of your data by meeting all the requirements of the GDPR and IT security.

    Our data protection and information security meets the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the specifications of the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI Standards 200, IT-Grundschutz Compendium). In addition to observing these official guidelines, the statistical offices are also requesting expert advice on data protection and information security: Throughout the 2022 census, those responsible will continue to receive guidance and support from the data protection supervisory authority (the Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information) and the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI). As the 2022 census is a cooperative project of the Statistical Offices of the Federation and the Länder, their work within the statistical network will also be shaped by the requirements of the GDPR and BSI.

    All data collected during the census will be stored in the data centres operated by the statistical offices; structural, technical and organisational measures will be taken to restrict access to such information. In addition, all the necessary measures will be taken to ensure data protection and information security in the interest of preserving the confidentiality, integrity and availability of the data.

    4. Joint responsibility for data protection within the Statistical Offices of the Federation and the Länder (Art. 26 GDPR).

    In accordance with Art. 26 of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Statistical Offices of the Federation and the Länder have come to an arrangement to honour the rights of data subjects during the 2022 census. As a result, the rights of data subjects (Art. 15 to 21 GDPR) will be safeguarded during the 2022 census. This arrangement will apply to the data collected in accordance with the 2022 Census Preparation Act (ZensVorbG 2022) and the 2022 Census Act (ZensG 2022).

    Data subjects will be able to exercise their rights against the responsible statistical offices. The regional statistical offices will respond to enquiries concerning the data collected within their sphere of responsibility. The Federal Statistical Office will respond to enquiries concerning data processing within the Federal Statistical Office. The output of information from the central IT infrastructure will ensure that the rights of data subjects can be honoured appropriately.

    As a data subject, you can submit a request to the responsible Statistical Offices of the Federation and the Länder to assert your rights under Art. 15 et seq. of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Please note that our request form is only available in German.